Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Picture of the day

Traditional Hungarian (Magyar) horse archer

The ancient Hungarians or Magyars conquered the Carpathian Basin over 1,100 years ago. The Magyars were fierce warriors that travelled over vast distances on horseback. The horse played a very important role in the daily lives of the Magyars. Most of the fighting they did was also done on horseback. The Magyars were particularly known for their superb horseback archery skills. They kept Europeans in fear for hundreds of years with this skill. "God save us from the arrows of the Hungarians" cried the Europeans when the Magyars attacked in the 9th and 10th centuries. 

Sadly, the art of horseback archery all but disappeared into history as military technology developed. Hungarians during the Cold War were often discouraged by the communist authorities in participating in traditional Magyar customs and practices. They often prevented Hungarians in celebrating and rediscovering their cultural roots. This was done in order to prevent the spread of nationalism and cultural pride which was a threat to the communist system.

Since the fall of communism in 1989, Hungarians are rediscovering their traditional horseback archery. The world famous Hungarian horseback archer Lajos Kassai has established a horseback archery school in Hungary recently. Many Hungarians are now free to practice an art form that their descendants once used centuries ago. The communists tried to make the Hungarian people forget who they were and where they came from. We can triumphantly say that we remember and we will never forget!